• Aaron Flynn

Immigration Round-up 23 June 2020

There have been some interesting and positive developments since my immigration round-up last month. Many of the COVID-19 Contingency Arrangements have worked really well and it is hoped can become the standard processes in due course. Electronic filings and documents are very convenient for practitioners and clients alike. Unfortunately this electronic document usage has not been uniform across Government Departments and I have experienced INIS changing the guidance in their FAQ document to the great detriment of clients.



However, let me start with the very positive and long mooted development of allowing Dublin based students renew their permission online. This will improve the availability of appointments to all customers of the Burgh Quay Immigration office and is very welcome.


  1. Student Registration

Irish Residence Permit Renewal (Dublin Region)


The online renewal system will be available to people who:

  • Are resident in Dublin City or Dublin County,

  • have previously registered with the Immigration Service,

  • are a Student, renewing a Stamp 2 or a Stamp 2A permission, and

  • have an IRP card that has recently expired or is due to expire in 29 days or les

Students will need to complete the application online, and pay the €300 registration fee when applicable. The following documents need to be uploaded electronically.


Biometric page of valid passport(s).

The front and back of the IRP card.

Proof of private medical insurance.

An original letter from your college/school confirming enrollment as a student.

Proof of paid college/school fees.

Proof of attendance record of at least 85% at your school/college. (Required for people on English or Irish Language courses).

Proof of exam results (Required for people on Third Level Degree College courses).


INIS aim to process applications within 10 - 15 working days of receiving documentation by registered post. A new IRP card will issue and be issued within 5-7 working days.


2. Employment Permits


The DBEI's contingency plan sets out to ensure that the Employment Permits system will continue to operate in all scenarios for the duration of the crisis:


The main points of the Contingency plan are:


Electronic (PDF) copy of permit will issue by e-mail;

Employment Permits Section will facilitate the changing of start dates to applications that have been received but yet to be processed;

100% refund if applications are withdrawn, before they are processed, if withdrawal is as a result of the crisis

Applications for Stamp 4 Letters of Support can be submitted electronically; and

Applications to review a decision of an employment permit can be submitted electronically.


Processing times are as at 19 June:


3 weeks for Trusted Partner applications

6 weeks for Standard applications


The contingency plan and processing times are very welcome indeed and this is an example of the system working very effectively during the COVID-19 lock-down. The planning and investment of Conor Stokes and the dedicated staff past and present in the epos system has led to this win during the COVID-19 turmoil and I would like to highlight this.


3. INIS and Visas


As set out above INIS have been updating their FAQ document with the latest revision on 17 June 2020. Unfortunately this document has seen some revisions which have reduced earlier commitments to 'a practical approach' on submitting visa appeals within the 2 month deadline which has resulted in visa appeals being rejected as outside the 2 month deadline.


As of 22 June the Department of Foreign Affairs has announced processing of certain visas will re-open at Embassies and VFS centres as follows:


Great Britain


The VFS Global, Irish Visa Application Centre in London will reopen on a phased basis from Monday, 22 June 2020.

This reopening signals the start of a wider plan to reopen Irish Visa Application Centres in Britain on a phased basis.

Only long-stay visas (‘D’ categories) will be processed initially. Short-stay Visas (‘C’ categories) will not be processed due to ongoing restrictions in Ireland.

Certain Priority/Emergency cases will continue to be processed as normal.


UAE


3 Irish VFS Visa Application Centres (VACs) to reopen in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Kuwait City on Monday, 22 June 2020.

Only long-stay visas (‘D’ categories) will be processed initially.

Priority/Emergency visa applications will continue to be processed as normal.

Short-stay visas (‘C’ categories) will not be processed due to ongoing restrictions in Ireland.

This reopening is part of a wider plan to resume Ireland’s visa services. It is envisaged the Embassy of Ireland Visa Office Abu Dhabi will resume visa services from other locations under its remit on a phased basis.


Turkey


The Irish Embassy has announced the reopening of five Visa Application Centres (VACs) in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya and Gaziantep on Monday, 22 June 2020. Initially, the VACs will only allow long-stay applications to be made (‘D’ categories). No tourism or short-stay visas (‘C’ categories) will be processed at this time due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland. Certain Priority/Emergency Short Stay cases will continue to be processed.


Russia


Moscow to reopen in on , 23 June 2020.Only long-stay visas (‘D’ categories) will be processed initially. Short-stay Visas (‘C’ categories) will not be processed due to ongoing restrictions in Ireland.

Certain Priority/Emergency cases will continue to be processed as normal.


VFS in Kazakhstan will reopen on 23 June 2020.

VFS in Belarus will reopen on 23 June 2020.

VFS in Uzbekistan will reopen on a later date.


China


Five Irish VACs to reopen in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Hong Kong on Monday, 22 June 2020.

Reopening's signal the start of a wider plan to reopen Irish VACs in China on a phased basis.

Only long-stay visas ('D' categories) will be processed initially. Short-stay Visas ('C' categories) will not be processed due to ongoing restrictions in Ireland.

Certain Priority/Emergency cases will continue to be processed as normal.


4. Recent Court decisions


The Supreme Court in KN & Ors -v- Minister for Justice & Equality, MAM -v- Minister for Justice & Equality [2020] IESC 32 has held that that refugees who became Irish citizens were not deprived of the right to apply for family reunification under s.18 of the 1996 Refugee Act. The Court noted that the interpretation of s.18 of the 1996 Act arrived at may not only, potentially, work to the benefit of the two appellants, but also others from the group of some 50 other applicants who are said to be similarly situated, provided they are otherwise eligible to avail of the provision.


Humphreys J in Ramaabya & ANOR -v- MJE [2020] IEHC 283 dismissed a case which was originally brought by THL Legal stating:


'The applicants then consulted an entity apparently advertising itself as immigration consultants, THL Legal. That firm, who are not solicitors, purported to institute judicial review proceedings, record number 2019 No. 288 J.R. Once it transpired that those proceedings had been filed by an entity with no authority to do so, I struck out the proceedings on 31st July, 2019 as irregularly constituted, having previously ostensibly granted leave in May 2019 unaware of the difficulty. '


This was the applicants second case as detailed above the first was struck out. This shows the importance of taking legal advice from those competent to provide it and which I have written about earlier as I am contacted quite often by clients who have taken 'guidance' from consultants which does not adequately consider the complexity of immigration law.


In X -v- Minister for Justice & Equality & ors the Court of Appeal [2020] IESC 30 the issue at the heart of this appeal was the extent or breadth of the definition of “child” for the purpose of family reunification and whether that definition could include a minor who is said to be the child of the applicant for family reunification but who is not a biological or adopted child of the applicant. Though the applicant was appointed legal guardian and named as the children's father in Cameroon he refused to undergo DNA testing to prove he was the parent.


Justice Dunne stated:


'The key issue at the heart of this case concerns the definition of “child” as that phrase is used in s. 56(9)(d) of the Act of 2015. The word “child” in that context can only be a

reference to a biological/adoptive child of the sponsor. That is the literal and ordinary meaning of the word. That that is so is reinforced by an examination of the historical background to the legislation concerned from which it is manifestly clear that rather than introducing a broader meaning of the word “child” in the section, the overall effect of the section was restrictive in terms of those to whom family reunification could apply.


This was a case in which a serious doubt arose as to the paternity of the two children in respect of whom Mr. X sought family reunification. That serious doubt was created by Mr. X himself in correspondence with the INIS. In those circumstances it was appropriate to seek DNA testing to establish the relationship between Mr. X and the children concerned. In circumstances where he refused to undergo such testing, the Minister was entitled to draw an inference from that fact and to refuse the application.'


Revocation of Citizenship


The Irish Times report that the Supreme Court has reserved judgment 'concerning the lawfulness of the process under which Irish citizenship can be revoked.' The case concerns Ali Damache who was naturalised to Irish citizenship in 2008 having been born in Algeria. He was extradited to the USA where he is serving a sentence having pleaded guilty to assisting a terrorist group. Damache has argued that the process of establishment of a committee by the Minister to which he can apply to inquire into the Minister’s reasons for initiating the revocation procedure but as the findings of that inquiry are not binding on the Minister and there is no appeal this is unfair.


The State has argued the revocation procedure did not involve the administration of justice and court participation was thus not involved. As Section 19 confers a statutory power on the Minister, he is authorised to exercise it, and can do so by altering the legal status of a person or body in the same way that revoking a licence or refugee status alters the status of that entity or person.


It is reported that some 40 cases await the outcome of this case and it is sure to be a very interesting development in this area of naturalisation law which has seen substantial developments in the Courts and in particular in the Supreme Court.


5. J1 Visas


Lastly as my colleague Janice Flynn informs me President Donald Trump has extended immigration restrictions including a ban on the J1 and other visas until the end of year. This will be a further blow to many Irish students who have availed of the visa over the years to experience living and working in the USA during their studies.


©2019 by Aaron Flynn Solicitors.